HARVESTING THE OIL OLIVES
We have been harvesting our oil olives at The Walnut Tree villa for the last eleven years. We’ve had some good years and some hopeless! What we have always wanted is the best quality olive oil achievable.
Up until last year (2018) we knew of no way to determine the acidity of the oil – the yardstick of whether olive oil is premium, extra virgin or of a lesser quality.
In the autumn of 2018 we heard about Taste of Kefalonia (www.tastekefalonia.com), a family run business with a recently installed press near Spartia in the south west of the island.
The olive harvest throughout Kefalonia was poor last year, but we managed to pick just enough olives to take to the Taste of Kefalonia press with the result of a medium quality 20 litres of oil.
Of course we wanted to do better.
So September 2019 … and we are back at The Walnut Tree villa.
This is always a season of two halves. First few weeks, we welcome family and friends, enjoy their company and just have fun. And what an October! Perfect weather almost all through the month.
But by the end of October and beginning of November, all our guests have gone home ….. and then it is all about OLIVES.
Have we got any? Are the olives of good quality and in sufficient quantity?
AND the big question! What is the weather going to be like?
This year the answers all seemed hopeful. Yes – we had got olives. Yes – there were sufficient olives to make picking worthwhile (even with the usual mystery of some trees being bowed down with fruit and others just about bare). And YES YES ….. the weather had been nearly perfect.
Rain at the end of September and at the beginning of October had not been fully appreciated by our guests but the olives certainly did! Just the right conditions for the olives to ripen and plump up – thank you very much. Even when heavy rain at the end of October knocked olives off the trees, we put this down to nature discarding fruit affected by fly or some other reason: oh the optimism of the rookie olive picker!
We heard the olive press at Taste of Kefalonia was open and kept an eye on the weather forecast. Four whole days from 4th November looked relatively dry. We decided to go for it.
The following photos illustrate the progress of the following days.
Before the pick began
First morning laying the sheets
Up the ladder and raking!
Gathered in the sheets and …… bagged up
AT THE PRESS AND THE PRESSING
All done and dusted! We asked the management to test our oil and waited. The result we so desired came back – 0.2 % acidity.
R E S U L T! Our oil was Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
BACK to The Walnut Tree villa
So we returned home, on a dark and stormy night (I am NOT JOKING)……. extremely happy olive pickers. We had taken 150kgs of olives to the press and returned with 25 litres of oil – a return of 15%.
We stopped off in Sami on the way home and celebrated at Mangiare’s with beer, wine and supper.
Next day, no resting on our laurels (am I getting in a Greek muddle here?). Back to the olive trees to start the pruning.
And there is another plus: The Walnut Tree villa is now self-sufficient in wood for our wood-burning stoves inside the villa and for the BBQ and outside pizza oven cooking.
Now that is satisfactory – on all counts. Are we smug? Yes we are!
Of course, all my BBQ cooking is done with well dried wood and thoughts of friend Peter who taught me to use wood and not charcoal for a half decent BRI! I hope you read this, Marcia.